Singapore still far behind in true gender equality

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Singapore still far behind in true gender equality

Postby tamarind » Mon May 24, 2010 10:42 am

Singapore still far behind in true gender equality: Aware
WE WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with Professor Hans Rosling's view last Wednesday ('Want more babies? Fathers, please step up') that Singapore has not seen a reversal in the decline of fertility rates because Singaporean fathers are not rising to the task of child rearing, and state support for equal parenting roles is not adequate.

In our 2004 report (Beyond Babies: National Duty Or Personal Choice), we stated that there is a direct correlation between total fertility rates and gender equity.

Many people think that Singaporean women have achieved gender equality. However, compared with countries such as Australia, Sweden, Britain and the United States where the total fertility rate is now increasing, we have a long way to go.

In the last 30 years, women have entered the workplace in droves. More girls graduate from our universities than boys. However, these changes are asymmetrical. Men have not moved into the domestic sphere at the same rate.

This asymmetry makes child rearing much less attractive for women. The woman who derives satisfaction from her work will not be keen to have any, or many, children if she has to bear the bulk of the childcare burden. In the meantime, her husband does not lose sleep about balancing work and family life.

Whose problem is this and what can be done? The State, the market and the individual all play important roles in the determination of fertility decisions.

Here are some considerations:

What is the message and effect when the State mandates four months' paid maternity leave, but not a day of paternity leave? Are we sending the message that fertility is solely a woman's responsibility?
Adequate support structures for families and availability of flexiwork arrangements are key factors in countries which have seen positive fertility trends. In Singapore, however, part- time work amounts to a minuscule 10 per cent of employment. Why is this?
Are family-friendly arrangements in workplaces equally available to male employees, or do employers treat a male employee's request to take time off to care for his sick child less favourably?
How can we support more active fathering? The 'Dads for Life' national campaign is a commendable initiative of the National Family Council and a step in the right direction.
Traditional gender roles not only deprive men of the opportunity to play an active role in their children's lives but also create an unbalanced environment where women are discouraged from having more children.

Corinna Lim (Ms)
Executive Director, Aware

tamarind
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Postby tamarind » Mon May 24, 2010 10:43 am

Dear all,
What are your views of the above article ?

Just curious, how many fathers here actively help out with house work, caring for kids, teaching kids, etc ?

tamarind
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Postby toddles » Mon May 24, 2010 11:45 am

I must give credit. my hubby is a real gem cum warrior.

although we had hired a confinement nanny, as first time parents we were very garang and wanted to care for OUR baby OURselves.

so from the very start, he would wake everytime i did in the first two weeks (he was on leave) at night, and thereafter we took turns to feed baby at night (expressed milk or formula when it was his turn).

he can bathe dd even till today. he pitches in and can do almost everything i can do except nurse. a very involved daddy. :love: even our CL was impressed.

but of course there are still times when dd only wants me then he just retreats into him-time. :cry: i told him he must be so close to dd that she wants him as much as she wants me! he's stepped up, and when she fusses for me he distracts her with his crazy daddy swinging games etc.

before kids, we split the housework or did together. no maid. now still no maid, grandparents very helpful and supportive plus PT cleaner. so we still do the housework together when necessary. in fact he does most of the weekend laundry while i see to dd. very supportive hubby.

whether he becomes as involved as mummy in coaching for school... remains to be seen i guess!

i think we should campaign/agitate for more paternity leave. 3 days is a joke. at least 2 weeks if not a month pls. gahmen should put money where mouth is. if babies are indeed such a priority. so disappointed the last time they talked so much about fathering then not a day more for dads paternity leave wise. cheh!

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Postby sleepy » Mon May 24, 2010 12:03 pm

tamarind wrote:
Just curious, how many fathers here actively help out with house work, caring for kids, teaching kids, etc ?


dh does selective house chores eg. ironing, mopping, cooks at least one meal, coach dd1 in Maths for an hour or two and ferry kids to enrichment classes. All these done over weekends. However, he likes to keep most of his evenings free for his golf activities. I guess the difference between us is he can still afford the time & energy to pursue a 'time consuming' hobby while I can't. I suppose I should be contented that he's at least helping :wink:

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Postby schellen » Mon May 24, 2010 1:08 pm

sashimi was very hands on with DD1 but when DD2 came, we felt that since I'm a SAHM, he can let go somewhat, so that he can concentrate on resting and being focussed at work. Since I have my hands full with DD2, he will deal with DD1 when he gets home. On weekends, my mother doesn't come over to help me so sashimi will help whenever he can.

I know he can bathe and feed babies, change their diapers and dress them as well as get them to burp and sleep. Unfortunately, DD2 prefers me so we agree that if he has time and I'm busy, he can devote his time to DD1 instead, so that she doesn't feel left out.

sashimi vacuums and mops and does the dishes (but the dishes will be soaking for a looong time and he doesn't put them away when they are dry). He tried ironing but gave up; he does try to buy shirts that require little or no ironing to help me out though. Whenever we need to do spring cleaning for CNY, he'll take leave to help. He also cooks occasionally. :love:

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Postby tamarind » Mon May 24, 2010 3:10 pm

Hi toddles, sleepy, schellen,
You are all very lucky to have husbands who can help out :D Will you consider having more babies ?

In my case, my hubby has the heart to help, but he does not have the skills to do house work. It is very difficult to train him, because his idea of cleanliness is very different from mine. Once he used the kitchen towel to wipe my girl's face :P

I don't blame him, because I hate to do house work too ! Since both of us are not good with house work, the best alternative is to employ a maid.

Back to the comments by the Aware director, I do not think that the low birth rate is due to gender inequality. I think most couples dislike doing house work and taking care of babies, this applies to both hubby and wife. Most people do not want to go through the hardship to have babies. So the suggestions by the Aware director are quite useless. The most important thing to do, is help mommies to employ cheap and good quality maids !

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Postby Funz » Mon May 24, 2010 3:38 pm

I am turning green with envy.

I can count the number of times DH changed diapers or made milk or fed DD and DS, when they were younger, in 1 hand. And he cannot use breast feeding as an excuse as they were both on total EBM.

Now that they are older, DH's involvement with them is sporadic at best. Usually in the play and at times discipline department. I handle all their school and enrichment matters including coaching them, ferrying them to and from their classes, etc. DH will only ask the occasional how did DD do for her this or that test.

Same story with household matters. We have a live in helper so that eases a lot of the workload. However, when to replenish what, arranging for maintenance, repairs, etc, all still mostly handled by me. DH's department is the house network and cable vision and the occasional replacement of lightbulbs.

So in my case, I can fully identify with the part on gender inequality on the home front. But that does not really stop me from wanting to have more kids. I still think that it is very much a personal choice. Having a more involved partner will ease the stress and workload but it does not really tip the balance that much.

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Postby tamarind » Mon May 24, 2010 4:28 pm

Funz wrote:So in my case, I can fully identify with the part on gender inequality on the home front. But that does not really stop me from wanting to have more kids. I still think that it is very much a personal choice. Having a more involved partner will ease the stress and workload but it does not really tip the balance that much.


I agree.

I decided to have a second baby even though I knew very well that my hubby cannot help. I wanted another child so that my older girl does not feel lonely. My mother lives with me and offers very reliable help, together with a maid, and these were my main considerations when I decide whether to have another baby.

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Postby mumma_bear » Mon May 24, 2010 9:38 pm

DH helps out as much as he can, although he's not that meticulous in taking care of DS. I still do it most of the time... he leaves the disciplining to me as well though because he's the more lenient type. I appreciate him for helping out in some little ways that he can since he doesn't do that before, and I can see that he's trying his best. :D

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Postby kuzco » Tue May 25, 2010 9:33 am

I am already green with envy at all the posts here.

I am in an almost similar situation as Funz. DH hardly helps at all and I do not have any part-time or live-in helper. Running of the house full-time falls on me and it can get stressful at times, plus looking into DS school and tuition matters. I also work full-time. Mum and MIL live too far away to help. There is definitely gender inequality here. I saw the red flags earlier on and I've decided that having one is enough for me.

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